Becky G Knows Success Is More Than How People Perceive You
Bilingual bangers, superhero acting roles, a multi-platinum hit record, and a beauty empire — a decade into her career, Becky G is just getting started. But success isn’t the whole story.
On a sweltering summer day near downtown Brooklyn, the sky heavy as if the fair-weather cumulus clouds are going to crack open, second-generation Mexican American pop superstar Becky G lays sprawled on the floor of a chic, minimalist living room, not breaking a sweat. Call it a level of professionalism few possess, almost like she’s instructed her glands to get it together.
The camera clicks as Becky poses for her first Teen Vogue cover story, with her impossibly hip team exchanging a choral interplay of English and Spanish in the background. Beyoncé at Coachella, Beyoncé in Destiny’s Child, BEYONCÉ is on the playlist for a moody shot in natural lighting (on the roof, after a costume change, that’ll shift to Afrobeats, like SPINALL and Fireboy DML’s “Sere,” and Latin trap). Becky is laser-focused. She doesn’t utter a word until there’s a suggestion to adjust positions in a manner she finds unflattering. She shoots it down politely, but without apology, and moves on to the next look. At 25, the L.A.-born-and-bred performer is an industry veteran: particular in her goals, specific in her vision, an unimpeachable force in a Prada tank top and her own makeup, the just-over-a-year-old Treslúce brand. “Everyone’s having babies,” she tells a group of onlookers who asked about her primos. “And I’m birthing products.”
It’s 7 p.m., and Becky’s inhaling a black coffee — her second of the day and she allows herself only two. In less than 24 hours, she’ll board a flight to the Festival D’Été Québec in Canada, where she will see Luis Fonsi for the first time since they performed “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Disney’s Encanto at the 2022 Oscars alongside Megan Thee Stallion. That’s a detail she somehow manages to share without coming off as braggadocious. Her off-camera personality is a miraculous combination of cool older sister self-assuredness and laid-back SoCal roots, guarded, but genuine. “Metaphorically speaking, Inglewood felt so far from Hollywood,” she says, comparing her hometown neighborhood to the glamorous zip codes she now frequents, a 35-minute drive away. “I’d never even seen the Hollywood sign until I was 12. I’d never seen the Hollywood Walk of Fame until I was a signed artist.”
The sentiment echoes her first single, a reinterpretation of Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny from the Block,” 2013’s “Becky from the Block,” released when she was just 16. “It all started when my grandpa crossed over,” she sings, referencing her family’s immigrant history. “Now one day, I’m a be a crossover / Right now it’s just who is that girl? / But one day I’mma be all around the world.”
Nearly a decade later, those words couldn’t have been more prescient. Becky G is everywhere, a pop superstar bringing her bilingual, multicultural message to the masses. And she’s nowhere close to done.
For someone just now old enough to rent a car, Rebbeca Marie Gomez’s CV is miles long. It starts in elementary school. Inspired by stories her grandparents told about working in Mexico (and her parents’ financial struggles — more on that in a minute), Becky at age nine decided she needed to make money. But because she was so young, she couldn’t get a job. “The most I could probably do is sell chocolate bars at school, but what are they going to do, give me a toy piano?” She laughs and leans in for emphasis. “I don’t want that. I need good food on the table. I don’t know what [my drive was all about]. I still try to figure it out and unpack it in therapy, but it was out of necessity.” She now describes that time period as her “midlife crisis…at nine” — not to heroize her hustle, but to deglamorize it.
At 10, Becky shot a KIDZ BOP commercial. In the 15 years since she’s starred in episodes of Empire, Machine Gun Kelly’s Good Mourning film, and the 2017 live-action Power Rangers as Trini Kwan, the Yellow Ranger (a character this ’90s kid will tell you was coded as queer and a person of color, even on the playground, at least, in my school — the role many of us took on while our white friends called Pink). She released seven Billboard Hot 100 hit singles, across genres, in both English and Spanish, collaborating with everyone from Bad Bunny and Anitta to One Direction’s Zayn Malik and country mainstay Kane Brown.
“I love that she represents all the Latinos that live here in America — because you feel like you belong to both places,” Anitta says of her friend and collaborator’s ability to celebrate multicultural identities. “There are so many people in the same position that want to be able to say, ‘I am part of these two worlds,’ and I think that she does it perfectly. I love her.”
Argentine trap rapper KHEA, who collaborated with Becky and Julia Michaels on the 2021 single “Only One,” agrees, telling Teen Vogue that Becky is one of the women leading a current movement of Latinx artists today. “She represents the new generation, and the beginning of what we are now seeing as our moment as a whole,” he says. “When I met her, I confirmed why. She has the best energy and is super kind and hardworking.”
What’s hidden in her success story is the struggle. Becky says she was bullied by some of her classmates because of her child-acting career. She did not graduate from high school, dropping out to focus on financially supporting her family, but her education happened elsewhere: in her idiosyncratic career, the fact she’s a voracious reader (“a lot of self-help books,” she says, smiling), and her street smarts.
“We lost our home in the 2008 [financial] crash. My parents were broke and we had to check ‘homeless’ on our lunch applications. I remember how embarrassing it was to get my lunch taken away because I was in deficit,” she explains, adding that her family had to move into her grandparents’ garage. At 15, she became “the sole provider” for her family, a process she describes as “parentification…when you become the emotional confidante for a parent.”
A series of oddball acting roles and a nascent teen pop music career followed: first on YouTube, filming rap covers, and then a deal with Dr. Luke and his record label, Kemosabe, leading to the single, “Shower,” that made her career. It also could have destroyed her, transforming Becky G from budding talent to a one-hit-wonder.
“It wasn’t written for me,” she says. When asked if it was written for a white pop star, she says, “It absolutely was, from what I remember.… For me, the lesson [was] that the song was bigger than me. Anyone could have sung that song, but I was very lucky. It took me to so many places. I can enjoy it now.” (R. City, two of the co-writers on the song, told Teen Vogue it was originally written for Katy Perry, but she “never heard it.”)
Even with the multiplatinum hit, Becky didn’t release a solo LP until half a decade later, 2019’s Mala Santa, via Sony Latin, when she stopped recording in English and started singing in Spanish. She’s loath to talk about the details of the “many moving pieces” that, to many outsiders, seemed like it delayed her career from taking off. (And that’s because it is extremely complicated: In 2018, Billboard reported that Becky filed a $105 million lawsuit against Core Nutrition LLC, the company behind Core Hydration bottled water of which Dr. Luke owned a large percentage. According to Rolling Stone, Becky claimed her role as a spokesperson for Core overshadowed her recording career, and, as Variety reports, she alleged she’d received an inequitable share in her endorsement. She later dropped the suit, though the reason was never publicized.)
“Industry-standard contracts looked a certain way when I signed and they look different today,” she says, arguing that they can feel opaque, “So young hustlers like myself don’t understand it. Because if you told me to run up the mountain, do five spins, clap my hands three times, and do two jumping jacks, I will do it, if it means that I get to provide for my family. Thank God, I can speak another language because where I was in my career felt like I was tied to a sinking ship. And it’s terrifying to think at 18–19 years old, This is it. This is the end of what you’ve dedicated your entire life to.”
It’s not so much that she started singing in Spanish to capitalize off a post-“Despacito,” post-“Mi Gente” American music industry that was welcoming more Latinx performers. (She grew up on mariachi, salsa, lowriders oldies, J.Lo, Selena Quintanilla, Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Jenny Rivera — and *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Brandy — in equal parts. She also grew up speaking both languages, but when her brother, Alex, was born and diagnosed with autism and craniosynostosis and undergoing brain surgeries, Becky says doctors recommended they stick to one language in the household. Their parents chose English.) She simply found she could have career freedom performing in Spanish. And for Becky, autonomy is everything.
The day after the hot and humid Brooklyn photoshoot, I met up with Becky at Lure Fishbar in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood — a hip, subterranean, four-dollar-sign spot meant to look like the inside of a party yacht. Read enough about Becky G and you’ll learn that she loves sushi. What you won’t learn is that she’d school any pescatarian with her mariscos knowledge and that she has a good appetite. In this instance, she wants lobster. She’s developed an affinity for the crustacean since her boyfriend of six years, soccer player Sebastian Lletget, moved to Boston to play for the New England Revolution. At the time of this publishing, he’s inked a deal with FC Dallas.
She orders a yellowtail jalapeño roll (her publicist, just within earshot, laughs, “Of course!”), oysters (“Is it bad to have oysters for breakfast?” she asks me, already knowing the answer), and a whole, two-pound, market-price lobster. She does it with such authority that I, too, am convinced to eat oysters at 11:45 a.m.
Like the day before, her makeup is flawless: a collection of her favorite brands and some of her own Treslúce products. (The recently released lip gloss is a favorite.) “Culturally speaking, Latinas, we start wearing makeup younger, but it’s also taboo,” she says, flipping her phone around to show me an adorable photo of her in elementary school, decked out in her mother’s makeup. When she was 16, Becky became the youngest CoverGirl, ever. Then came a ColourPop collaboration and eventually, her own brand sourced from “the natural elements of Mexico,” like agave from her familial home of Jalisco (famous for tequila), and packaged in her distinctive Talavera blue, strikingly similar to the bright and brilliant shade of Frida Kahlo’s house in Coyocán, Mexico City. Heritage is worn on Becky’s sleeve, or in this case, her eyelids.
On the business front, Becky’s Treslúce partners are also Latinx. Every decision she makes is meticulous, especially considering that Latinx people come in all different skin tones. “That was part of our initial conversation from the very beginning. To say that there is the Black community and then the Latinx community eliminates the fact that there are Black Latinos. I really want to be so intentional with how we represent Latinx culture because it’s not a one size fits all,” she says.
“I’ve been the Latina face for a lot of brands and not everyone looks like me. Not everyone identifies with their Latinx culture the same way I do. And so, I’d love to create a space where if you are a part of the Latinx community, you feel represented and you feel seen… Latinidad is different for everyone.”
In the summer of 2022, Becky’s Treslúce was accused of ripping off an indie Latinx brand called Araceli Beauty. Launched by Mexican-born Araceli Ledesma, the Araceli Jalisco Eyes Kit uses agave oil sourced from Mexico, features an agave illustration on the packaging, and comes with a sticker sheet depicting a series of unmistakeably Mexican products (an agave plant, a dahlia flower.) Treslúce Beauty’s eye kits do the same; their blush palettes also share a similar name. “My goal is not to tear anyone down,” Ledesma wrote on Instagram. “I have admired Becky G for a long time. However, I owe it to myself and other self-starting entrepreneurs to speak up in order to protect our self-made unique businesses.” Becky denied the accusations in a video posted to Treslúce’s Instagram account, saying, “The few ingredients in Treslúce products that they are infused with are native to Mexico. They are not specifically owned by one place or person… All of these elements were extremely important to me, the brand, and were inspired by my life experiences and culture. It was not stolen.”
At the time of publication, both Treslúce and Araceli have removed their posts. A statement Araceli shared publicly on August 11 reads: “Araceli Beauty and Treslúce Beauty have come to a private mutual understanding and are moving forward positively. Each brand has a shared respect for what we are building separately with a common focus of uplifting self-starting women and supporting our communities.”
Looking back on what happened, it seems Becky views it as misplaced frustration. “When you get to a point in your life and your career like I have, the community that you worked so hard to represent, that community can then identify you as something closer to the fame that you experience,” she says. “What people project onto [you] sometimes isn’t yours to wear.” She pauses. “I have no problem taking accountability… My actions hopefully speak louder than anything I could say.”
“If I had my so-called midlife crisis at nine, there’s definitely another one happening right now at 25. I know that there’s another one inbound at 35 and probably another one at 45. At this point, [I] fight for this life.” Becky starts a new thought, largely unprompted, as she often does. Dining with her is watching the performer’s mind work a mile a minute, finding intersectional connections in everything. “Here’s an example: I became one of the youngest investors in the first female futbol club in LA, [Angel City],” she starts. “I end up being a part owner of the team … I’ve had it tough as a female in Hollywood, how about women in sports? There are parallels there.”
And so, before the first game, she headed into the press room with all the other investors and owners. An older white man bumped into her, spilled his beer, and said, “‘I’ve never met you before. Do you work for the team?’” Becky recalls. “I look at this older white man in the face and say, ‘No, actually, I’m an owner like you.’” Was it because she’s young? Because she’s a woman? Because she’s Latina? “Or is it because of all that? Is it because I’m all of them?” she asks.
In the age of gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss, entrepreneurship has exited a lot of feminist conversation. It’s crucial not to conflate capitalism with feminism (building a blockbuster business as a woman isn’t a radical act), but what Becky has identified is the crucial work of allowing for more representation, for hiring Latinx employees to provide services to Latinx costumers, to do work that will, hopefully, one day move the needle. And it’s critical work, considering that Latinas in the U.S. are paid 51% less than white men and 31% less than white women, according to the organization Lean In. “There are times where I was probably perceived as the most successful artist, and I didn’t have healthcare,” she says. “Not everything is what it seems.”
There are levels of discrimination, of code-switching, of existing in entertainment as a Latina. “The industry has a way of being like, ‘We already have one [Latina. We don’t need another.]” Becky says. “I grew up watching the Selena movie, and there’s that scene where her dad says, ‘You’re either too Mexican for the Americans or too American for the Mexicans. It’s exhausting.’ And it’s this unspoken thing that you can’t be in the middle.”
But the middle is where multiculturalism thrives. It’s that celebration that has made Becky G such a force in pop music, especially on her sophomore LP, 2022’s Esquemas. There, she is a woman unafraid to own her sexuality and femininity and masculinity all at once in her reggaetoneros (the anti-machismo Latin trap “Sin Pijama”), her disco pop detours (“Bailé Con Mi Ex”), her modern merengue (“Fulanito”), or even the trilingual “Chicken Noodle Soup,” her 2019 banger with BTS member J-Hope, which the pair performed live for the first time ever at Lollapalooza this year, his first solo performance and headlining slot. “We were one of the first to do Korean, Spanish, and English. It’s really badass,” she says, adding that even if there’s a bit of a language barrier between them, “I’m so happy that it happened the way it did. To this day, it’s one of those, ‘I see you, you see me, and even though we may not necessarily have the deepest conversations, we get it’ [relationships.]”
The middle, too, in this context, is a celebration of second- and third-generation immigrants, like Becky, who refers to herself as possessing “Pocha power.” “[That] is the term they use for us,” she says, referring to how native Spanish-speaking Mexicans refer to the Latine population of the U.S. that isn’t fully fluent in Spanish. “That’s what I’m about: pocha power!”
For years, Becky has been working toward a more inclusive future and, finally, it looks like the world might be catching up to her. “We get to break generational cycles,” she says, smiling. “Growing up, I didn’t have anyone educate me on what the difference between ethnicity and race was,” she continues. “When the murder of George Floyd happened, when the murder of Breonna Taylor happened, I identify this as our issue as well, but some in our community don’t. That was such a wakeup call for me,” she says, alluding to the colorism and anti-Black racism that plagues much of Latinx culture. “When I speak about educating, it’s doing it with love. The walk home for me is a lot different than my cousins who are lighter than me but is also a lot different than my friends who are darker than me. It’s about acknowledging that privilege that you may have or relating to what some of that discrimination could possibly feel like. We need to take time to enlighten ourselves a little bit, to educate ourselves, and to ask the stupid questions.” Of course, when it comes to empathy, there are no stupid questions.
But I might have one. A couple of hours into our meal, when I get the sense that I’ve earned her confidence, I lob an abstract query Becky’s way, half-expecting a canned response. With everything she has accomplished in the last decade, has her definition of success changed? “Absolutely,” she says, taking a sip of club soda. “When I wake up in the morning, [that’s success.] There’s success in getting home safely.”
It’s now that I notice her eyes have begun to water, but she doesn’t let a teardrop fall. “Last night, I lost a really good friend,” she begins. “We’ve had many conversations of what this day might feel like, because of his medical condition, and it hurts more than I could have ever imagined. His heart was too big for this place. Literally, physically, his heart was just too big. He impacted so many people.” She pauses. “I’ve hit such lows that there [were] times I thought, This [place] could be better without me. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve accomplished, or how successful people perceive you to be. To be here is enough to celebrate.”
She’s speaking slower now, softer, no longer a pop star but a woman grieving. “The fact that we celebrate no sleep and resiliency, it’s important that we reflect on it. Let’s start understanding that it’s productive to recover, rest, and heal. Life’s a lot sometimes… but life’s just getting started.” For her, it always is. But don’t mistake it for passivity.
“I identify more with my community than my class. I identify more with the fact that I’m a daughter and a sister, and a granddaughter than I do a pop star. It’s hard. I see myself in the mirror like everyone else in the morning. Brush my teeth like everyone else in the morning. At least, I hope they brush their teeth,” she laughs. “I’m a student of life, man. I may have 10-plus years under my belt of being in this industry, but one of my favorite quotes is, ‘If it’s not growing, it’s death.’”
Therein lies the multiplicity of Becky G: she’s insatiably curious and driven, a woman who has been working most of her life. She’s struggled and she’s experienced incredible success. She’s been minimized and glorified. She’s been subjected to systems of inequality and she’s built businesses independent of that. But most importantly of all, she’s existed as an artist, championing a multicultural and four-dimensional approach to superstardom. It’s why, when you ask her, “What’s next?” She’ll respond, “A new genre to take over, a new product to drop,” laugh, and she’ll add an existential thought instead of mentioning tour dates with Latin-pop legends like Reik or teasing her upcoming single “Amantes,” a collaboration with Daviles de Novelda: “I’m leaving room for spontaneity. I’m starting to really enjoy not knowing because that’s how I can get inspired by life again.”
What she does know is that the work continues and the growth continues. “The true artist at heart knows that I want to keep going. I want to keep learning. I’m that little sponge that just loves to absorb anything that I can, understanding the meaning and the why of something.” She pauses. “And so, I’m excited for what’s to come because I know that the opportunities can be made into something even more beautiful. It’s humbling as hell.”